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Britain to review business rates system

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 22:30

[LONDON] Britain offered the prospect of some relief to traditional retailers in their battle against online players, with finance minister George Osborne announcing plans on Wednesday for a full review of the country's archaic business rates system.

In a half-yearly budget statement to parliament, Mr Osborne urged business groups to engage in the review which would examine the structure of business rates.

Business rates are taxes to help pay for local services, such as police and firefighters, charged on most non-domestic properties, including shops, warehouses, pubs, cafes and restaurants. They are currently calculated according to the rental value of properties.

Traditional retailers have argued the tax unfairly benefits online retailers, as they tend not to have many large properties.

Mr Osborne also said he would continue to cap the inflation-linked increase in business rates at 2 per cent.

Last year, he announced that over the following two years every retail premises in England with a rateable value of up to 50,000 pounds (US$78,400) would get a discount on business rates, worth 1,000 pounds.

On Wednesday, he increased that help for Britain's shopping districts by 50 per cent to 1,500 pounds from next year.

REUTERS